Marketing Methods That Immediately Grow Your Small Business, Part 3

Joint venture arrangements are one of the fastest ways to get new customers. They work because you “borrow” the credibility, trust and customer base of another organization. Regardless of the business you are in or the products or services you offer, there already exists a number of organizations that have established relationships with your target market. The joint venture process enables you to leverage those existing relationships and, in the process, generate a flood of new customers.

There have been a number of $1,000+ courses written on this subject that include hundreds of pages and dozens of legal forms. But for most small businesses, these types of courses can be more intimidating than inspiring. I’m here to tell you that you can create lucrative joint venture relationships, easier and faster than you ever thought possible. The fact is, at its root, this method is so straightforward and so immediately effective you owe it to yourself to test it in your business.

The building blocks of this method are simple. First you must have a handle on who your target audience is. Then you create a list of potential joint venture partners. Next, you create the offer you wish to make to your target audience. Then you approach the organizations you identified as potential joint venture partners and present your case. Finally, you and your partner iron out the details of the joint venture agreement. Sound simple? It is! So let’s get to it!

Identify your target audience:

Do you know who you are marketing to? Have you already identified your target audience? This is a crucial step in the process because you must get your message into the hands of people who will respond to it. The best offer in the world will fall as flat as a pancake if you don’t get it into the hands of the right people.

One quick way to identify your target audience is to profile the top 20% of your existing customer base. A detailed customer profiling discussion is beyond the scope of this article but if you can identify the commonalities that your best customers share, you are well on the way to identifying the essential elements of your target audience. Once you have done so, it’s time to move on to the next step which is:

Identify potential joint venture partners:

In this step you first identify the types of organizations and businesses your target market already has a relationship with. For example, if your target market is golfers, your list might include golf courses, golf shops, athletic stores, golf cart manufacturers, and so on. Once you have listed the type of businesses your target prospect is likely to do business with, you can then list the organizations within each type of business.

In this phase, you develop a list of actual organizations who likely do business with your ideal prospect. By identifying the types or classes of business before the actual organizations you will find that you automatically broaden the scope of your potential joint venture partner list. Armed with your list of potential partners it is time to move on to the next step, where you:

Create the offer you want to communicate to your target audience:

As you will be making the offer through your joint venture partner(s), you will want to make your offer special. The phones won’t be ringing off the hook if all you offer is a 10% discount. You want the reader to perceive that they are getting something special as a result of their relationship with your joint venture partner. So give them something special!

Free always works (see Part 2 of this series) and so does buy one get one free. You could offer an extended guarantee or warranty, or a sizeable discount. You could offer a sneak preview of a sale or an invitation to a special event. Whatever you decide to offer, make it so special that your potential joint venture partner(s) will immediately see the value in your offer and your target market will feverishly respond to it.

Approach your potential joint venture partners with your offer:

Before approaching each partner, it’s a good idea to research a little about the way they do business. Do they endorse or promote other businesses? If so, how do they do so? What types of offers do they promote? You want to get a sense for joint venture projects they have already agreed to. Then, package your first project in a similar way.

You can approach your joint venture partners through any medium you wish. This is one area where email communications tend to be least effective. My favorite way of contacting potential joint venture partners is by phone. But some small business owners don’t have the time (or the inclination) to do a little cold calling so I also recommend that you mail your potential partners a letter highlighting the benefits of your joint venture proposition (as discussed below) for them and their customers.

About a week after mailing the letter you will receive a call from your potential partners. If not, you simply call them. By following up your letter with a phone call you can increase the effectiveness of your campaign three-fold! Best of all, there is no cold calling with this method!

Of course, if your potential partner is local and easily approachable in person, head on over and discuss your idea face to face. You’ll often leave a personal meeting with an agreement and plan securely in place.

If your potential joint venture partner has not participated in a joint venture before, be prepared to educate him or her on the process and how it creates a win-win-win result. Their customers win because they get a special deal because of their relationship with your joint venture partner, the joint venture partner wins because they benefit from the agreement (we’ll discuss this more in a moment) and you win because you get to extend your offer to more highly targeted, potential customers. This method truly creates a win-win-win result!

Ironing out the details of your agreement:

The specifics of your agreement with your potential joint venture partner will need to be defined and agreed upon. They could involve a share of the profit you receive from the sales related to their endorsement, or you could barter your product or service in exchange for their endorsement. It could be that you agree to endorse their offering to your customer base in an endorsement exchange scenario. Your options are limited only by your creativity.

You will also want to define your roles and expectations of each other. This includes any operational and financial arrangements you have made. For example, if you propose a mailing, it is best if the mailing appears to come from your joint venture partner, written on their letter head.

It may also be that your partner collects the funds from such a mailing and sends you an amount equal to the payment less their commission and you fulfill the order. The more complex the agreement, the more attention you will have to pay to operational and financial processes, roles and expectations. But this is true of any business agreement, right?

Here’s a BIG TIP when creating your proposal for your joint venture partner, make it as easy as possible for them to benefit from the project. The less they do, the better. The closer you can get to “money for nothing,” the more responsive your potential partner will be.

While I’m at it here’s another BIG TIP: make your first project a guaranteed success, pull out all the stops and make sure that everyone benefits. Put together a great offer for your target audience, reward you partner for their participation and make sure that everyone has a positive experience. Do this and your joint venture partner will be excited about the next opportunity to work with you. And as I’m sure you know, the real profit in your business comes not from the initial sale, but from repeatedly selling to your customer base. Are you with me?

What do you do now?

You get started! Schedule a 30 minute appointment with yourself (I’m serious – what gets scheduled gets done) and follow the outline I have shared with you in this article. At least get to the point where you have identified several joint venture partners. You can easily do this if you invest the time.

Remember, a joint venture doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as simple as agreeing to do a mutual exchange where you and your partner distribute each other’s business cards. Once you complete your first successful joint venture and see how effective they can be, you will be hooked! So schedule that appointment with yourself now!

Now you know the basic process for creating joint venture projects. The process is the same regardless of the scale of your project.

For those who pursue this method of marketing their small business the rewards can be great. You really can create an avalanche of new customers sales and profit in your small business with joint venture marketing. The question is will you?

Join me next time for the fourth and final installment in this series where we will discuss how you can generate thousands of dollars worth of publicity for your business, completely free of charge.

Transform Your Small Business Marketing

I regularly interview small and solo business owners who call my coaching company looking for help. After getting a sense of what their business is all about, what their biggest goals are, and what lifestyle they are trying to create, I ask them what their biggest challenges are.

Nine times out of ten, it’s getting more clients and the problem is marketing. Most work very hard at trying to get one client at a time. They try many different small business marketing methods that they’ve heard about or which they’ve seen their competitors use. In other words, a little of this and a little of that. The results are inevitably mediocre. It’s easy to get discouraged when you know you have a great skill or talent to offer the world and yet no one is listening to what you have to say.

The mistake made by the majority of early stage small or solo businesses, and even some who have been around for years, is to do what I call “shot in the dark marketing”. This is like playing darts with a blindfold on and being convinced that you’ll hit the bull’s eye. You may occasionally do so, but you’ll do it rarely. The same is true if you are an entrepreneur who has not mastered marketing.

I bet you’re great at what you do. But, are you also great at building and running a business? These are two separate and distinct skill sets and both are crucial to your success. When it comes to small business marketing, the real truth is that people who are marketing masters can make money even with mediocre products, yet many people with excellent products and services fail because they haven’t mastered marketing. If no one knows you exist how can you expect to get lots of clients and make a great income?

Here are some tips on what you need to think about in order to begin to master marketing:

Do Research

It’s a mistake to decide what you want to sell, create a product and then try to find some people who need it and are willing to pay you for it. Instead use the Internet to find out what people are searching for within your area of expertise and to research what and how your top competitors are selling. Also figure out where your prospects congregate online or offline so you know where you can reach them with your marketing.

Create a Marketing Design

This is a detailed plan that locks in what marketing activities you’ll pursue and how you’ll measure and track the results to know if those activities are working. Make a list of all the different ways you could generate leads both online and offline. Then pick only those that will focus on your target market. For example, join social media groups that attract your target market, mail marketing materials, postcards and brochures only to your target market. The same applies to print ads and sales calls. Don’t waste time on broad groups of people, but on the type of person who you know would buy your type of product or service.

Then pick three activities from the list and get started. You most definitely need at least one of them to include online marketing, either. That’s why I teach my online lead generation system. You can use a variety of methods such as article marketing, video marketing, blogging and social media to organically generate traffic. You can also use search engine optimization and pay per click advertising to generate search leads.

Follow Your Plan

Stick to your plan and see what works. Give it a bit of time, then focus tightly on what works and get rid of the rest. Don’t waste time, for example, going to networking meetings just because you like the people when you’re not connecting with potential clients or referral sources. Your time is limited so use it wisely.

Outsource

Why do $15 an hour tasks when you can outsource them and spend your time being the strategist and servicing clients? As soon as you outsource rote marketing tasks, you’ll find they get done more quickly and consistently and you’ll start generating a steady, reliable stream of qualified leads.

Follow Up

Once someone is on your mailing list or has called your company, have a follow up system ready to go into action so you don’t miss out on closing sales with people who are ready and willing to work with you!

Transform your small business marketing from lackluster to powerful!

Why is Selling So Difficult For Small Business Owners? Use These 3 Sales Management Strategies

Why is selling so difficult for small business owners? The ability to sell is necessary for every business yet it is often a neglected activity. To simplify the selling process, you need to build a sales approach into your marketing mix program. (Your marketing mix includes product, price, promotion and place – the sales activities belong in the promotion category.)

First, it is important to understand the marketing mix promotion category. Marketing promotion includes personal selling (face to face), direct mail marketing (one-to-one and via email or mail), and use of telemarketing campaigns (one-to-one and via telephone). Additionally, marketing promotion includes the advertising (for example, radio, newspapers, internet, magazines, storefront, and more), promotions (for example, trade shows, coupons, contests, point of purchase displays and more), and public relations (for example, press releases, community involvement, and more) activities.

Second, it is important to build a sales plan targeted to each product or service category, and also focused on each type of customer. If you are entering new markets, use sales contact management and sales leads software to focus your efforts. This software will also provide good sales service maintenance and follow-up support. Business process management tools help you to focus your sales activities and provide you with valuable time saving tactics. You can track and manage your activity and results for leads, prospects, and customers. You can also integrate your sales leads software with your sales management software to develop reports on customer purchases, service or product launches, price change impacts, service or product change impacts, and more.

Third, develop strong negotiating and closing skills. Always look for a win/win solution both for you and your customer. Make sure you focus on the unique value and benefits of your products and/or services and how that value will benefit your customer (solving their needs or problems). To negotiate a sale and to close a sale effectively requires a specific skill set. You need to be a very good listener and really hear what your customer is saying. You also need to be sincere – how many times have you heard pre-rehearsed closes that just turn you off? You can practice your close but when you are in front of a potential customer make sure that you can close based on what your customer just told you, what you heard, and what you believe you can deliver – in effect, how will you fulfill your customer’s needs more effectively than other suppliers?

To be successful in business, you need to either be successful at selling or be able to hire a great sales person because no matter what you have to sell (product, service, idea or something else), you will have to sell it to someone. Learning how to sell effectively is possible but you need to enjoy it. If you dread the idea of selling, don’t do it (your customers can perceive your discomfort and you will find it even harder to make the sale). Hire someone who loves to sell to do it for you (you can hire an employee, or sales agent, or contract worker, or broker but it is likely that employees will be most committed to you and your business). Customers and potential customers will resist buying from someone who isn’t comfortable with the sales process, and while you might get some orders, hiring someone who is good at selling will free you up to do what you’re good at… a much more effective use of your time and resources.

Overcome the challenge of developing small business sales skills:

  • learn to focus on developing a marketing mix promotion that includes building service or product differentiation and positioning features and benefits that help you to increase sales successfully;
  • learn to build an effective sales plan and use software and business process tools to help you manage the plan;
  • make sure you develop strong negotiating and closing skills and
  • learn how to manage your own efforts, or the efforts of others.

Learning how to sell effectively is of critical importance to your small business sales growth; and just as important is recognizing when to hire someone to do the selling for you.